Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

School of Library and information Science

Sub-Department

College of Information and Communications

First Advisor

Samantha K. Hastings

Abstract

British planters, merchants and other non-landholding persons from Barbados owned and transported enslaved persons to the South Carolina colonial settlement as early as 1670. However, there is minimal specific information about Africans or Barbadian Creoles selected for these voyages. To date, no empirical research has examined any data on African or African descended artisans (enslaved or free) who accompanied their owners or authorized travelers to the New World. Such historical lack provides negligible if any recognition of the skillsets rendered by specific artisans that significantly enhanced the economic development of both Barbados initially, and later during the early development of Charleston. There is also little information known as to why Black artisans were specifically chosen or able to travel to and from the new Atlantic World. This lack of knowledge directly opposes the analyses of the numerous studies done on the importation of West Africans brought to Carolina for their expertise in rice technology and indigo processing which notably benefitted colonial capitalism during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Research generally seeks to gain better understandings of ways in which inhabitants of African-Caribbean heritage created a life for themselves by the manifestation and transformation of their culture through adaptive strategies, coping mechanisms, and creative resistance. The architectural, industrial and socio-cultural details of sugar and rice plantations have been documented to interpret ways in which local patterns of life emerged and evolved in Caribbean and Carolina settings. Yet little of these studies provide voice, face, and evidence of the co-existence amongst Bajans and Gullahs working in rural and ‘urban’ settings such as Bridgetown and Charleston.

A multitude of African and Creole artisans and skilled tradespersons played important roles during the colonial period, thus this research investigates the associated cultural heritage of craftsmanship and the built environment. The study examines artisans working within utilitarian and decorative arts with data mined from critical archives, history, genealogy, and archaeology resources associated with Black artisans originating in Barbados and their trajectories to later connections with Gullahs of Charleston, South Carolina.

Available for download on Wednesday, December 18, 2019

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